Accused burglar found competent for trial, enters not guilty plea

Posted 8/7/22

A transient with a history of 10 burglary arrests entered a pleading of not guilty Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court to charges of second-degree burglary and third-degree theft.

Clint …

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Accused burglar found competent for trial, enters not guilty plea

Posted

A transient with a history of 10 burglary arrests entered a pleading of not guilty Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court to charges of second-degree burglary and third-degree theft.

Clint Michael McNelis, 37, appeared in court July 29 via a video link from the county jail. His arraignment followed his release from Western State Hospital, and prosecutors said McNelis was now competent to stand trial.

Scott Charlton, McNelis’ attorney, told the judge that he would purse a defense of diminished capacity and said it was doubtful that McNelis would be found guilty at trial.

Charlton also wondered what purpose the state had in prosecuting McNelis and asked for his client to be released from jail on his personal recognizance.

“These are two glorified shoplifting charges. One involves a jar of pickles,” Charlton said.

Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Pleimann asked bail to remain at $500. She said McNelis had a history of failing to appear at his court hearings.

Pleimann also noted the competency evaluation that was completed July 22, and concerns mentioned in the report that McNelis would not be able to take care of himself if he was released into the community and would not be able to stay on his medications.

Superior Court Judge Keith Harper entered an order finding McNelis competent.

Harper added if not for the report from Western State Hospital, “I would have released you in a minute.”

“Both these cases are basically shoplifting,” Harper said,

McNelis was arrested March 28 for second-degree burglary, third-degree theft, and obstructing a law enforcement officer after he allegedly violated a no-trespassing order from several weeks earlier that forbid him from entering the Port Townsend grocery.

Workers at The Food Co-op called police after McNelis again came into the grocery.

In an incident report, a Port Townsend police officer recalled previous incidents involving McNelis: “Clint often runs from police, has fought with police, me included, and has attempted to assault police while being detained or arrested.”

McNelis’ trial was set during Friday’s hearing. It has been scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

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